Dear Friends in Christ,
As you can imagine, people often talk to priests about their problems. And at the top of that list are marital struggles. I don’t have to tell you that married life can be a tremendous blessing and challenge at the same time. It’s not easy, never has been, and never will be. And for a whole myriad of reasons, many marriages and other romantic relationships fail, resulting in one or both of the parties wanting to go their separate ways.
And while every marriage is somewhat unique, the problems different couples have can be quite similar. Infidelity, of course, is a big one. Lots of people break up over that. Abuse, physical or emotional is sadly, a problem too. Even something as simple and common as boredom can creep in and threaten relationships. But one I hear probably more than any other is something along the lines of, “In the end, I guess we just wanted different things out of life.”
In the end, I guess we just wanted different things….
I don’t have to tell you that there seems to be a lot of division in Christianity. And I don’t simply mean “different denomination” although that is a significant problem. I’m really talking about the enormous differences that seem to exist within the hearts and minds of individual Christians. This is not a new thing, nor is it something that just came about shortly before the spilt between East and West in 1054, quickly giving rise to the Orthodox Church, or the protestant Reformation in 1517 resulting in a rapid splintering of faith communities. The reality is, Christianity has always been somewhat contentious as the faithful have tried to clarify, define, and figure out what it means to be a Christian.
Like much of society, maybe each of us just wants different things out of life…I think the answer lies in Paul’s carefully chosen words, when he tells the people of Corinth to be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. In other words, if we truly want to be united in faith (or in marriage,) it’s not ok for me to just listen to what my mind wants and simply follow my own purposes with no awareness of my companions on the journey. If that were the case, and it often is, we would be as divided as everyone else; each of us going our own way and doing our own thing. We suffer because of it, not unlike a married couple who finds themselves no longer on the same page on so many important things. And the world suffers because of it too.
The “same mind and same purpose” Paul talks about is the mind and purpose of Jesus. One of the unique promises of Christianity is that our faith is not built on a philosophical system. It’s founded on and rests on and is grounded in a person, the person of Jesus. We, as Christians, don’t follow just a few “ideas” or “rules” or “practices.” Rather, we follow a person—a concrete person we can look to who shows us how to live and why to live, shows us how to see and how to respond to reality.
And so being a faithful disciple really has nothing to do with figuring out what I want out of life. It’s really more about what God wants out of my life, and what He wants out of us as a faith community. These are things that last. These are things that unify. These are things that have the power to transform human hearts and transform the world. Unconditional love. Radical forgiveness. True compassion and mercy and understanding.
In the Peace of Christ,
Fr. John Lasuba